1. What does ''greek wine ''means to you?
-When I grew up in Denmark, my father, who is Greek and lived in Copenhagen since the mid 60s, miss(ed) Greece and especially the Greek weather. So, when our family opened a bottle of Greek wine, he always explained the Greek wine as concentrated Greek sunshine. Today, and now working around Greek wine, this is still what Greek wine means to me: Greek concentrated sunshine (i.e. Greece) in a bottle.
2. Is there a future for making greek wine more famous and more respectable?
-Yes, I absolutely believe so! In my opinion, Greek wine is one of the most interesting and up and coming wine regions of Europe. It is wine that now is harvesting lots of recognition, receiving many awards, and a lot of great articles and reviews are being written. But, ‘Rome was not built in one day’… telling on a wine country unknown to many needs heavy legwork and for a very long time in order to succeed. And, especially in Scandinavia there is very long way to go. No Greek wine news or updates seem to hit the wine media nor the wine business up here. I try my ways buzzing, creating events and synergies around the Greek wine as for people to taste the fine bottles in person and in various contexts. Because without continuously arranging wine events you cannot move anywhere. Nobody knows Malagousia or Agiorgitiko here, hence how can they take the decision to buy the wine made of these grapes varieties? In the future, I hope the business could work more closely together to facilitate the knowledge and learning process on Greek wine, because only that way we will come further.
3. What’s the whole concept of Oinofilia?
-The concept is to visualize Modern Greece through her great wine. A well-made bottle of Greek wine is as transferring a good story of Greece. But, enjoying wine is not only a journey of the senses – and expression of the fantastic sun, I mentioned before - but also one of acknowledgement, of the geography, geology and winemaking as well as agricultural traditions and from different parts of Greece. Oinofilia’s wine shall engage the consumer in a positive Greek image that has little to do with the headlines of Greek crises and economic difficulties, but, everything to do with artisan produce, specialization and a very high quality handcrafted products. The goal of Oinofilia is to showcase the Greek wine through information on - and in close relation with the winegrowers - how the wine is made of some of the oldest grape varieties of Europe at very different terroirs and creating unique expressions with elements from both the new and old wine worlds. It will not be the biggest wineries, Oinofilia collaborate with, but instead the smaller to medium sized boutique winery focusing on a specialty and with a natural, organic and biodynamic – overall green - philosophy.
Another cornerstone of Oinofilia is to ‘value change’ the use of Greek wine in the mindset of the Scandinavians, where the goal is to present the wine to clients, as wine not only limited for consumption to Greek food recipes, memorizing the summer holiday on the islands, but, instead educate on how the wine can be used overall and at all times – as freely as Scandinavians now are using French, Italian and Spanish wine – to fit Asian, European, fusion and Nordic cuisine and enjoyment context.
4. Is there a certain kind of wine that people from abroad prefer the most?
-From client and collaborator feedback the first run-year in business, I have learned there is an increasing interest in buying wine made of indigenous grape varieties and from a natural, organic and biodynamic produce. The reason for this wine trend is to be found in people’s need being able to make greener (healthier) choices also when choosing wines, even if it is a little more expensive than the conventional wine. I also believe the trend is to be explained in regards to a curiosity of trying new and unexplored wine making territories with wine making stories and principles above the average; hence, somehow mirroring fatigue towards wine from mass produced wine regions as well as towards the well-known international grape varieties, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc... In this connection, one of Oinofilia’s biggest sales successes is the great feedback Tetramythos Wines’
“Black of Kalavryta” has received in Copenhagen, not only by private clients, but, also by wine connoisseurs and wine bars in Copenhagen, where you today can find it for sale. And, in this case, we have, exactly, an organic wine made of an indigenous grape variety, only grown in a very little area on Peloponnese and only produced in a limited amount of bottles annually.
5. Your favorite wine? And why?
-Very difficult question! How many can I choose? - As I am still learning on wine – and the Greek wine in particular –I have not even scratched the surface, yet… which makes this process very exciting. For each day you learn new. So far, so good, my darlings – my favourites - are the wine I engage with and sell… It may sound strange, but, I love the wine I sell; I sell the wine I love…
6. Your daily programme? How do you manage your company as a buisness woman?
-The days are really very packed juggling with everything me-myself-I. Knocking doors, following up client orders, networking, keeping the paperwork of the Danish bureaucracy in sync (not easy, as there is a lot of rules to follow, communicating with my wine-partners in Greece, having strategy meetings with a future partner promoting Greek delicacies, attending wine events, brainstorming over the copy of a future website that soon needs to get out, a long overdue newsletter, making deliveries… and often per bicycle as to save the planet some C02. I try to manage as much as I can, but, there is never enough time. The work requires flexibility and creativity as you constantly need to attend situation ad hoc and in areas never tried before. I enjoy it 1000%. No days are the same and for me this kind of diversity generates inspiration and gasoline to move on.In order to succeed promoting this very important niche of Greece, I believe you need to be absolutely dedicated to the mission. Many people have asked me why I don’t want to include Italian, Spanish or French wine, or, for that sake delicatessen products - from Greece or elsewhere - in my portfolio. I cannot combine as is. Promoting Greek wine is a direction that needs specialization and a one-way focus.
7. What is the worst comment you have ever heard about our wine?
-The worst comment I heard was at a cultural event last summer, presenting a selection of wine. The comment came from a woman who tried the Mantinia - Moschofileo - white wine, on which she confidently said to her parea, “Ahh! Right! Here you can really taste the Retsina…” This I found sadly saying for the level of knowledge some people have on the Greek wine.
In general, it’s no secret; I do not hear the most comforting comments when I explain my metier. Actually, I oftentimes, I get a “You said Greek wine? I so do NOT like Retsina…” - Then you cannot but smile starting to explain, “Retsina is one very particular style of Greek wine; if you haven’t yet tried, you should try a Greek red or a Méthode Champenoise made of …” and so it starts. Positively “Curiosity killed the cat” in more examples than expected.
8. Your secret of having a great time...tell it now !
-A week without a great wine gathering is not a good week. As much as possible, I extend the passion for wine – learning on wine enjoying wine being around wine - with family and friends either it being at home, at a tasting or at one of the many great wine places in town. Wine generates smiles… and, truly, I cannot do without those wine smiles, maybe more so now especially, having returned the colder and darker Scandinavia after many years without…
9. Five things of greece you can’t live without?
-Very simple.1) The parea – with family and friends, 2) the sun, 3) the nature, 4) the wine and the food and, 5) Athens… What I really find very though is to be without Athens, for example to stroll up Filopappou Hill, waying at the Acropolis, watching Athens and her magnitude, the shimmering sea and the first islands in the far horizon. For me, with no doubt, the best spot in town to find peace, caught just in between the past, the present and the future…
10. Which is your favorite spot of the city you live?
-Copenhagen is full of amazing places and for each day you discover new spots as the city has changed immensely the years I have been away. My favourite place is at the harbour side at Langelinie, at Kastellet, not too far away from The Little Mermaid or for that matter the Queen’s Palace. Here you can sit at the waterside and just relax to sound of water, ships, passersby… It may sound strange, but, somehow, sitting exactly there makes me feel closer to Greece, the sun and the Mediterranean Sea…!
Maria Tsalapati is the managing director and owner of Oinofilia Copenhagen Area, Denmark.
Oinofilia imports directly from the boutique winery in Greece for B2B and B2C sales in Denmark and Scandinavia.